So I’ve been depriving myself of further sleep not thanks to my little 8-week old Boob, but to keeping tabs on the far away Melbourne International Comedy Festival back home in Oz. Specifically, I’ve been rather interested in this debate here, that being whether comedians are too sensitive: i.e. they can ‘give it but not take it.’
I’m straight away reminded of an encounter I had with a reviewer (at least I think I did – the commenter on my particular post on the subject refusing to identify himself), where I found out that reviewers really don’t like being reviewed. The irony that a reviewer could ‘give it but not take it’ is not lost on me here!
Now so much has been written on the subject, I want to at least try to keep my thoughts brief:
– I agree that reviewers are not only valuable to comedians, they are absolutely necessary to draw bums on seats. I don’t really think there’s any comics out there who would want to ‘abolish all reviewers!’ are there?
– That said, I DO believe that comedy is completely subjective. Not everybody is funny to everybody and shock, horror: that’s OKAY. I might not like eating asparagus, but it doesn’t mean that I demand its removal from society. (Okay, so most reviewers don’t demand this of comics they don’t enjoy, but the review I reviewed did indeed suggest – very mean-spiritedly in my opinion – that most of the comics that night should throw in the towel). My point is, comedy is subjective and a good reviewer – whether they themself adored the show or not – needs to take that into account when communicating a particular show to their readers.
– THUS…I think reviewers should at least be reviewing shows they have a chance at liking. Yes, their job is to present an accurate picture of the show – for better or for worse – so as to inform their readers as to whether or not this is a show for them. It would seem only fair then, that they themselves should be an accurate representative of that comedian’s target audience. Just as a punter is only likely to check out a musical comedy show if they know they’re into the genre, so too should reviewers be checking out things they at least MIGHT like, to best put themselves in the shoes of the average audience member.
– And, for the record, I actually DON’T think that open mics should really be reviewed at all. Really? Really. All new comics suck. They have to. It’s part of the deal you have to go through to get good. EVERYBODY SUCKS AT FIRST. I really don’t see the point in going along to an open mic night to review it IF your only intention is to slaughter. Because of course you’ll be able to (see above point referring to suckage). Okay, so there’s some who might say that there’s valid criticism to be found in said reviews that can help comics – perhaps that’s true on rare occasion, but more often than not I think the negative reviews are less informative or helpful and instead are just…well, nasty. I mean, check out the Tim Minchin review which inspired a song in his latest show. Its criticism could hardly be seen as constructive, am I wrong?
– Finally, on this whole ‘are comedians more sensitive than others?’ issue: I call BS. Comedians are human beings. Human beings are sensitive. I don’t know of one person who actually enjoys being criticised. I’m not talking criticised as in “here’s how you could do things better” but criticised in terms of “you suck”. (Well okay, there is one, but he has serious issues.) So if comedians need to harden the heck up – which may indeed be true – then it’s only because we all do.
That is all.